When President Obama and his army began their bombing campaign against Islamic State forces in Iraq and Syria, they cited as their justification the Islamic State’s (aka ISIS) beheading of a private American citizen. The beheading, U.S. officials, said demonstrated what a dangerous threat the Islamic State was to the United States.
But there was one big problem with that reasoning: Those who did the beheading cited Obama’s bombing campaign against ISIS as the justification for beheading the American citizen. Since the bombing campaign succeeded in killing Islamic State friends and comrades, the Islamic State claimed that it was justified in retaliating by beheading an American citizen.
So, is this a chicken and egg quandary? Which came first: the bombing or the beheading? Does it make any difference?
Ever since 9/11, this has been the major issue facing the American people with respect to U.S. foreign policy: Did terrorism come to the United States because of the ferocity of radical Muslims who hate America for its freedom and values? Or did terrorism come to the United States out of retaliation for what the U.S. government was doing to people in the Middle East, many of whom were Muslims, including such things as the U.S. government’s partnership with Middle East dictatorships, including Saddam Hussein, the Persian Gulf intervention, the sanctions against Iraq that were killing tens of thousands of Iraqi children on an annual basis, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright’s statement that the deaths of half-a-million Iraqi children from the sanctions were “worth it,” the stationing of U.S. troops near Islamic holy lands, the deadly no-fly zones over Iraq, and the unconditional military and financial support to the Israeli government.
One clue to which version is correct is Switzerland. That’s a country whose freedom and values are similar to those of the United States but with one major exception.
Like the United States, Switzerland has a welfare state and a regulated society.
Yet, notice something important: Switzerland isn’t the subject of terrorist attacks, and the Islamic State isn’t beheading Swiss citizens. Wouldn’t you think that if radical Muslims hate the United States for its freedom and values, they would also hate Switzerland for its freedom and values, especially since the freedom and values of the United States are similar to those of Switzerland, with one major exception?
So, what’s that major exception? Is it possible that that major exception could provide a clue as to which comes first: terrorism or U.S. interventionism?
One of the big things that distinguishes Switzerland from the United States is its foreign policy. Unlike the U.S. government, the Swiss government does not maintain military bases in foreign countries. It doesn’t meddle in or intervene in the internal affairs of other countries. It doesn’t engage in bombing campaigns against foreigners. It doesn’t commit kidnappings, coups, torture, assassinations, and indefinite military detention of foreigners. It doesn’t partner with brutal foreign dictatorships. It doesn’t get involved in civil wars or conflicts between nations.
The Swiss government, unlike the U.S. government, minds its own business.
In fact, the Swiss government’s foreign policy pretty much mirrors the foreign policy on which the United States was founded. That foreign policy of non-interventionism was summarized in John Quincy Adams’ Fourth of July Speech to Congress in 1821 entitled “In Search of Monsters to Destroy.”
And it’s not as though the Switzerland is a nation of pacifists. On the contrary, the Swiss people are among the fiercest and most competent fighters in history. Swiss citizens maintain assault rifles in their homes and most every one of them are trained to use them. In fact, shooting is a national pastime in Switzerland.
The difference is that the Swiss military, which relies in large part on well-trained citizen soldiers, is entirely oriented toward genuine defense — that is, the defense of Switzerland from an attack or invasion.
Thus, I find it amusing whenever American conservatives say they favor “a strong national defense.” The Swiss model — which constitutes genuine defense — is not what conservatives mean by that term. What conservatives mean by the term “a strong national defense” is actually a powerful overseas military empire, one that maintains military bases all over the world, engages in coups and other regime-change operations, kidnaps, tortures, assassinates, and indefinitely detains people through the Pentagon and CIA, partners with brutal dictatorships, interferes with the internal affairs of other countries, and uses foreign aid to manipulate foreign regimes.
So, why do foreigners initiate terrorist attacks against the United States and not against Switzerland?
It shouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.